Goran Hadžić, the last remaining major figure wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, has been caught. He has been on the run since shortly after his indictment in June 2004.
Born in Croatia on September 17, 1958, Goran Hadžić worked as a warehouseman before the break-up of Yugoslavia and the subsequent conflict. He was active in a Serb separatist movement within Croatia that, in June 1991, unified smaller separatist areas into the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina, or RSK, which fought for ethnic Serb independence from Croatia.
The ICTY indictment covers the period between June 25th 1991 and the end of Goran Hadžić's leadership of the RSK in December 1993. It alleges that he participated in a joint criminal enterprise for the purpose of "the permanent forcible removal of a majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from approximately one-third of the territory of the Republic of Croatia, in order to make them part of a new Serb-dominated state through the commission of crimes".
He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Of the incidents in which he is charged, two stand out as the most egregious. Both date to the fall of 1991. According to the ICTY indictment, in the first, known as the Minefield Massacre, armed irregular troops under Hadžić's command forced 51 detainees to walk through a minefield. Twenty-one of them were killed by exploding munitions and gunfire.
The second is the Vukovar Massacre. Two-hundred-sixty-four Croatian patients were forcibly removed from the Vukovar hospital by Serbian forces, marched to the outskirts of the city and summarily executed, according to the ICTY indictment.
For these and other crimes, Goran Hadžić, the last war crimes fugitive on the ICTY list, will stand trial before the International Tribunal in The Hague. In a statement U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "A powerful message has been sent to those around the world who would break the law and target civilians: you will not escape judgment. None of the 161 individuals indicted by the ICTY for serious violations of international humanitarian law has been able to evade the Tribunal’s judicial process. This arrest serves as the latest proof that international justice works."